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NASA's ATREX study takes flight, launches five rockets in five minutes

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This morning NASA successfully launched five rockets within five minutes as part of the ATREX program, designed to help study the high-altitude jetstream at the edge of the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA ATREX rocket launch
NASA ATREX rocket launch

NASA opened the launch window for the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) almost two weeks ago, but has had to postpone the big event on multiple occasions for both weather and visibility reasons. This morning the right conditions came together, and at 4:58AM EDT the space agency launched five different rockets, spaced 80 seconds apart, from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rockets shot more than 50 miles up into the sky at around 5,000 miles per hour, releasing glowing chemical tracers that were viewable along the eastern coast of the United States. The ATREX program is designed to help scientists better understand the high-altitude jetstream that exists at the edge of our atmosphere. The dispersion of the chemical tracers was monitored by outposts in North Carolina and New Jersey as well as in Wallops; waiting for visibility conditions to sync up between the three locations was a large reason for the extended delay.